Registered but unaffiliated N.J. voters can take part in Senate primary

 (AP File Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(AP File Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Registered voters in New Jersey who are unaffiliated with a political party are able to vote in Tuesday’s special primary for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Frank Lautenberg.

About 46 percent of New Jersey voters are independent. They can go to their polling place and cast their primary ballot for one of the Democratic or Republican candidates, but Rider University political science professor Ben Dworkin does not expect many unaffiliated voters will do that.

“Very few people are going to vote, and virtually all of them are going to be people who are already declared and been hardcore partisans,” Dworkin said. “Really, only the most dedicated the most committed Democrats and Republicans are going to show up at the polls.”

Monmouth University political analyst Patrick Murray agrees with the Dworkin.

“Most of our primaries are not competitive and therefore even if you’re a Democrat or Republican in general elections, most people don’t feel that there’s a need to vote in primaries,” Murray said. “So we see a lot of voters who are unaffiliated just simply decide to stay home. I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of unaffiliated voters come out for this election.”

In fact, analysts don’t expect to see many voters of any stripe taking part in this election to determine the candidates who will face off in another special election on Oct. 16.

Because the special primary election is being held at a time when many people are on vacation, analysts expect voter turnout will be only about 10 percent.

Unaffiliated voters become affiliated with the party of the candidate they vote for in the primary. They can sever that tie by filing a change-of-party form with their County Board of Elections.

Democrats on the ballot are Newark Mayor Cory Booker, U.S. Reps. Rush Holt and Frank Pallone, and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver.

Seeking the GOP nomination are former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan and Dr. Alieta Eck.

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